Thursday, October 01, 2009

ESA Ariane 5 rocket to launch Tonight

A European Space Agency heavy lift launcher is scheduled to depart the Spaceport in French Guiana this evening on a multi-satellite delivery mission for both Spain and Germany.

Lift-off of the 47th Ariane 5 rocket from launch pad ELA-3 at Kourou, located in South America's upper east coast, is set for October 1st at 5:59:07 pm EDT (7PM local time) -- the opening of a 71 minute launch window.

As the clock strikes T-0, the Ariane 5's core engine will ignite followed by the vehicle's twin solid rocket boosters seven seconds later. Following lift-off, the

The work horse of the Ariane fleet will loft two satellite's into orbit a half-hour following launch. This will be the fifth launch of an Ariane 5 this year, with two more flights remaining in 2009.

Riding at the top of the two satellite stack will be the AMAZONAS-2, a Spanish telecommunications satellite which will be used by Brazil to transmit programming to both North and South America. It is scheduled to be deployed first at 6:26 pm.

AMAZONAS-2 will operate from a perch located in a geostationary orbit of 22,236 miles above the earth's equator and at 61 degrees West latitude.

Below AMAZONAS-2 in the nose section of Ariane will be the German Ministry of Defense payload known as COMSATBw-1. The German satellite will be used as a "secure network for voice, data, fax, video and multimedia transmissions", according to Arianespace. It will be released from the Ariane upper stage at 6:32 pm.

COMSATBw-1 will also operate from geostationary orbit and at 63 degrees east.

Both satellites were built in France for the separate agencies and are expected to operate for fifteen years.

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